The last time Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra came together on screen, it started with their childhood and ended in crashing a wedding. The duo follows the exact same sequence. Only Jabariya Jodi is not even a fraction as fun or endearing as Hasee Toh Phasee. After 143 minutes and 30 excruciating seconds, I’m not sure what it’s about.
Is it a parody on the practice of kidnapping grooms and forcing them to marry at gunpoint in Bihar?
Is it an attempt to drive home the idea of consent or a take-down on the evils of dowry?
Is it a lesson in Indian parenting and the side effects of social conditioning?
Is it a duel between toxic masculinity and perfunctory feminism?
Is it a tutorial in shoddy editing?
Is it a test to see just how gaudy and garish outfits Sidharth and Parineeti can pull off without damaging the viewer’s eye?
Is it a lavish exercise in proving how Bollywood loves to spend on weddings that almost never take place?
Jabariya Jodi’s haphazard structure and misplaced enthusiasm allows it to be multiple things yet lead to nothing. As a consequence, it’s you who feels held hostage and forced to experience a script that neither has the wit to satirise a prevalent issue nor the sense to focus at the problem on hand.
Directed by Prashant Singh, Jabariya Jodi spends bulk of its boisterous energy on repeatedly reminding us that it is set in Bihar where bizarre occurrences are as commonplace as the sight of litti chokha, posters that read Ee Na Ho Sake (dubbed Mission Impossible) and Murgh Donald (desi McDonalds).
For all its emphasis on accent and eccentricity though, the milieu seems more akin to a Rohit Shetty set what with more candy hues than you’ll even see in a Pappabubble store.
Babli Yadav (Parineeti Chopra) and Abhay Singh (Sidharth Malhotra) happen to be childhood sweethearts. (What’s with Sidharth (Baar Baar Dekho) and Parineeti (Meri Pyaari Bindi) and bachpan ka pyaar anyway?)
Engaged in a never-ending game of ‘she loves him he loves her not, he loves her she loves him not,’ here’s an age-old indecision that could be resolved in five minutes if not for Jabariya Jodi’s objective to prolong our misery by forcing senseless conflict.
Abhay’s groom-lifting business as a countermeasure to dowry demands is never really an act of desperate times call for desperate measures. These guys do not respect women yet make money and live in mansions by claiming to do ‘punya ka kaam’ by offering brides unenthusiastic life partners. Jabariya Jodi’s skewed ethics are deeply puzzling. The retribution offered by its so-called ‘krantikari’ woman is equally weird.
When the climax questions its earlier actions, the remorse feels cosmetic, unconvincing.
Babli and Abhay teeter-totter between rebound, rebellion, rejection, revenge, political ambitions and daddy issues, adding to their confusion and our exasperation — the writing (Sanjeev K Jha) is all over the place worsened by sloppy editing (Ritesh Soni), which takes pleasure in dragging the mess.
Though the dialogues pack punch — like that lovely bit about the thin line between fear and respect in some relationships — Jabariya Jodi’s jumbled setup fails to offer its characters any significance or spunky takeaway.
Singh ropes in a solid supporting cast — Javed Jaffrey, Sanjay Mishra, Aparshakti Khurana, Sheeba Chaddha, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Sharad Kapoor — but confines them in one-note characterisations to fully dazzle. Sidharth and Parineeti have an easy chemistry but they’re out of depth in parts that ask for more substance than sheen.
Between an earnest Sidharth channelling Mithun Chakraborty’s dancing expressions to appear uninhibited and good-natured Parineeti showing off her red highlights in what seems to be a tribute to cousin Priyanka’s hair colour in Love Story 2050, Jabariya Jodi constantly confuses tacky as terrific.